Tuesday, October 10, 2017

billboard BREAKDOWN - hot 100 - october 21, 2017

So I've been predicting for the past few weeks that the charts are on the verge of something breaking - and thus far, the Hot 100 has been doing a fine job of making me look like a fool by not really doing much of anything. Worse yet, the predictions I did make about pop divas making a splash blew up in the face and, as so many of you predicted, the biggest splash we got this week was from the debut album from A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. I have to be honest, this wasn't even on my radar or schedule, so might as well take a dive into that, especially considering our other new arrivals this week!

But really, it feels like our bigger story is in our top ten, where for another week Cardi B holds with 'Bodak Yellow' at #1, and if I thought its position is precarious before, I'm convinced of it now, as it lost the top spot on streaming, the sales are not stellar, and while YouTube is still good, its radio traction feels haphazard. I'd say 'rockstar' by Post Malone and 21 Savage is the easy challenger, with the top streaming spot, okay sales, and finally some radio traction, but a new challenger is approaching! That's right, thanks to an English language remix with Beyonce, 'Mi Gente' by J. Balvin and Willy William has taken the top of the sales charts and broken into the top 5 at #3. And considering that its streaming is picking up fast and radio isn't far behind, I can see this making a major play in the same vein as 'Despacito'... it's just a shame it's nowhere close to being as tolerable as that song was. It certainly puts '1-800-273-8255' by Logic ft. Alessia Cara and Khalid in an awkward position at #4, because while its streaming is good and its radio finally stabilized, I don't like those sales numbers. But the situation somehow looks worse for 'Look What You Made Me Do' by Taylor Swift, down to #5, as it spent the week losing in all categories except for the radio, which somehow seemed to stabilize near the end of the week. But when you put it up against the radio behemoth that is 'Feel It Still' by Portugal. The Man at #6 - still sounds weird to say that out loud - you have to wonder whether it'd hold up against that song's mediocre streaming but stronger sales. But then we have our next new top ten arrival - again, based off a commercial, come on America! - 'Thunder' by Imagine Dragons... and yet considering how much airplay traction it seems to have, this might be sticking around. Then we had the one pop diva pickup: 'Sorry Not Sorry' by Demi Lovato went up to #8, her highest ever charting single - which kind of amazed me considering how bad her sales crashed this week, but the radio and on-demand streaming really have gotten on-board. Puts it above 'Despacito' by Luis Fonsi, Daddy Yankee and Bieber, down to #9 as it continues to bleed hard in all categories, with YouTube not even proving as stalwart anymore - and on that note, 'Unforgettable' by French Montana and Swae Lee is also dropping hard to #10 as it evaporates in all categories.

So on that promising note, losers and dropouts! Couple of big ones in the latter category this week: 'I'm The One' by DJ Khaled and his posse, 'Stay' by Alessia Cara and Zedd, 'Felices Los 4' by Maluma, 'Fetish' by Selena Gomez and Gucci Mane, and 'Back To You' by Louis Tomlinson, Bebe Rexha and Digital Farm Animals. But what's telling is that none of these are all that surprising, and that's pretty much the same cases when you look at our losers. Most are on their way out naturally, like 'Feels' by Calvin Harris, Pharrell, Katy Perry and Big Sean to 66, or 'Whatever You Need' by Meek Mill ft. Chris Brown & Ty Dolla $ign to 100, and 'Friends' by Justin Bieber and BloodPop, despite me mostly liking it really hasn't been all that memorable as it fell to 54. And then there's 'DNA' by BTS losing all of its gains to 87... again, not surprised, unless it goes crazy viral I don't see a k-pop song getting the radio or streaming crossover it needs for longevity.

Now where things look a bit more interesting are in our returning entries and gains... and when I say that I mean our returning arrivals, because our gains are really following established momentum. Seriously, outside of 'Mi Gente', all the other gains had momentum into this week, including 'Thunder' which I already discussed. 'Havana' by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug continues to be the pop smash in waiting up to 29, 'Perfect' by Ed Sheeran is up to 34 with its bland sappiness, 'No Limit' by G-Eazy ft. A$AP Rocky and Cardi B is up to 59 thanks to our current #1, and hell, 'I Fall Apart' by Post Malone got momentum to 39 because of our current #2! Where I'm more interested are in our two returns, both of which I like: 'Sky Walker' by Miguel and Travis Scott to 96 and 'Let Me Go' by Hailee Steinfeld, Alesso, Florida Georgia Line and Watt to 90. No idea if any of them are going to gain traction - I know with Miguel it always seems like a crapshoot, but we'll see.

And now onto another rather sparse list of new arrivals, and speaking of Florida Georgia Line, let's start with...

98. 'Smooth' by Florida Georgia Line - so if you can't tell, country has been having a bit of an identity crisis in 2017, and nowhere has that felt more pronounced than in the wavering fortunes of this duo, who broke off of bro-country and have struggled with their sound in the past year as that scene has collapsed. So why on earth they think still releasing more singles from their lousy 2016 record was the right choice, I have no idea! And here's the thing: if you're going to title your song 'smooth' you'd think the groove and tones would be something close to that, but instead we get croaking frogs, a clanking banjo groove, obviously fake snaps and claps, and our frontman braying over the first line of the hook that the girl goes down good. And here's a list of things Florida Georgia Line compare this woman to: Sunday Morning Elvis singing gospel, cat daddy driving a cadi to Cali, finger-licking blackberry jam, and a brick road to Kansas. Seriously, the last thing Florida Georgia Line should try to do is sing about sex, because between delivery, content, and Joey Moi's overdone squawking production, it's not working whatsoever.

86. 'Beast Mode' by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie ft. PnB Rock & YoungBoy Never Broke Again - okay, first off, if I'm seeing a song called 'Beast Mode' I'm subconsciously going to be comparing to when Ludacris brought real fire with a song with the same title two years ago, and with the guests Boogie brought on board here, I didn't really have high expectations... which was probably fair, given how underwhelming this track is. Sure, the faded tones and flute off the sparse trap progression is fine, but between Boogie's forgettable brand name flexing, PnB Rock saying he can't afford to slip up as he supports his daughter even despite blowing money on diamonds, more brand names and screwing your girl, and YoungBoy going on a violent rant about slapping girls in between his flexing, and both of the latter two trying to force any sort of melody with blatant autotune. Look, for what this is it's passable, but it's also forgettable, and it doesn't exactly set the stage well for songs like...

84. 'Undefeated' by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie ft. 21 Savage - okay, can we deal with the obvious issue here first: 'company' doesn't rhyme with 'undefeated', there's a final syllable there you can't exactly ignore there, no matter how much autotune you try to tack on! And yeah, it might fit the watery hollowness of this particular trap beat where A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie is convinced that nobody is anywhere close to catching him and he wants competition... and yet I think that's more because nobody cares enough to call him out or deliver a smackdown, especially when you're more busy referencing your watch for a hashtag! Now to his credit 21 Savage feels a little more expressive and focused than usual, but it's not like his content is particularly witty or interesting either, which again, leaves the song feeling a little empty to me. Again, I can dig the production, but I'd like Boogie to say something noteworthy against it, so let's go to...

75. 'Say A'' by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie - I'll say it.. of Boogie's beats thus far, I probably like this one the most. Mostly because that jaunty piano playing off the dense hi-hat beat with the thicker synth accents actually sounds fun for once - imagine that, when it actually fits the mood of flexing instead of drowning in dank tones, you can temper some of the edges and make the same empty content a little more tonally consistent! Now again, this isn't great - he's still rapping about taking your girlfriend and putting her in a 'leg lock like MMA', but it's at least a little telling how all the money flexing is slightly tempered by the reality of getting stopped by the cops and having nothing much to really say, especially when he did earn his success off his music. And while again, the song is peppered with brand names and still feels shallow, it's a brand of shallowness I can more easily endorse - not bad, not bad.

74. 'No Promises' by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie - so we now have the opening of Boogie's most recent record, which is really just one extended verse musing on... well, a lot, and I can't say it really helps matters that Boogie can't stay consistently on topic. Yes, the melancholic piano and thicker bass on the trap beat fits the vibe, and he's at least somewhat honest about the toll his lifestyle has taken on both relationships and his own psyche, especially with the woman who got shot at one of his concerts in March of this year that he's clearly still shaken over. But given his current situation he can't make any promises going forward, even despite giving up all of his bitches for this girl and then it didn't work but at least he was good for her... and look, I can't be the only one who feels that the emotional throughline feels skewed here. For as much of Drake's style as Boogie is jacking - and especially in his sing-song flow it's evident here - he doesn't capture Drake's storytelling or emotional consistency at his best, and here it just feels like a jumble, and not in a way that builds to a stronger emotion. I guess I see some of the appeal, especially as Drake is not on the Hot 100 right now, but still... just not much here that connects.

68. 'Hi Bich' by Bhad Bhabie - you know, there's a part of me that wants to get hyperbolic about this, that a bad internet meme has signed to a major label and now has more mainstream hip-hop success than more deserving and interesting female rappers Noname, Rapsody, Dreezy or Dessa - and with videos of Jake Paul with 21 Savage I've got the feeling this is only going to get worse. But you know what, if the music is tolerable I might be willing to give her a chance... but really, you need to actually have a full song to make this work! This is less than two minutes, most of it is an extended hook, and there's only one verse against a beat that is more fuzzed out bass than actual melody! You might be able to hear some tone if you try to hear it, but beyond that, how about the rapping? Well, I hate to say it but while the punchlines are basic they're at least punchlines, and as much as her personality is obnoxious, there is personality.

But again, it's barely a song... and yet I'd still say it's better than 'Smooth' by Florida Georgia Line, which probably fails the hardest at whatever it's trying to do. As for best... man, very little here, but I think it goes to 'Say A'' by A Boogie Wit Da Hoodie - good production that fits the content, and a melody that actually sticks, that's enough for me. But man, what a flimsy week... let's hope for something interesting in the pipeline...

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